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Highways information [v]

Information on your highways.


  • PROW are paths or tracks that are open to everyone and can run through towns, countryside or private property.
  • Gloucestershire has about 3,509 miles of PROW. This is one of the longest networks managed by any county. For example, Oxfordshire has around 2,5000 miles while Worcestershire has about 3,000 miles.
  • You have the right to walk, ride a horse or cycle along certain routes and some rights of way are open to vehicles. They are designated as follows facilities - form an essential part of the wider highway and amenity work. It is also a resource helping people to keep fit and healthy.


In law all public rights of way are designated as Public Highways, and the Highways Act 1980 places a duty on highway authorities to ‘assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any highway’. We therefore have responsibility for the following three key aspects of PROW:

1. Maintenance of surface, signposts and bridges

  • The maintenance of the surface of public rights of way to a standard suitable for normal public use.
  • The maintenance of around 13,000 roadside signposts and countless waymarks.
  • A significant role in looking after around 2,500 bridges supporting public rights of way.
  • Maintenance of the network is carried out largely by contractors, community groups and volunteers working on behalf of the county council.
  • Day to day management of the public rights of way network is carried out by a team of Area PROW Officers.
  • In a large number of cases parish and town councils assist with the maintenance of their local rights of way network, sometimes engaging a local contractor or handyman, and in other instances utilising trained volunteers to carry out the work.
  • Landowners also play an important part in the maintenance of many structures on the network, being responsible for the condition of gates or stiles on public rights of way crossing their land. They are also responsible for reinstating paths after ploughing, for the control of crops on public rights of way and cutting back overhanging vegetation.

2. Maintaining the ‘Definitive Map’ and processing modifications and diversions

  • The Definitive Map and Statement are legal documents held and maintained by the county council, which record all known public rights of way in the county. Details can be found on the GCC website.
  • The Definitive Map and statement are living documents and are subject to constant change as routes are added, changed, or deleted. The council has the power (not duty) to make permanent legal changes (Diversions, creations and extinguishments) to the Definitive Map and thereafter to ensure the digital and paper mapping is kept up to date.

Administration of Gloucestershire Local Access Forum (GLAF)

The GLAF is a valued statutory advisory body to the county council set up under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Its main remit is to advise the council on the improvement of access in its area, though it also has a role in advising Natural England and a range of other bodies. Two councillors sit on the GLAF – Cllr Robert Vines and Cllr Wendy Thomas.

Voluntary involvement, community participation and partnership working

The PROW team in Gloucestershire works closely with volunteers and partners, both from organised bodies, and as individuals. Volunteers form a key part of the delivery of the public rights of way service and we continue to see great value in entering into local partnerships, which can be an effective vehicle to achieve the enhancement of the local environment. 

We work in partnership with:      

  • Volunteers                                               
  • Parish / Town and District Councils
  • User Groups such as:
    - Ramblers
    - British Horse Society
    - Carriage Drivers

Plus many others.

A prime example is the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens who typically carry out thousands of hours of work each year on both the Cotswold Way and rights of way in general.


PROW’s strategy document is the ‘Rights of Way and Countryside Access Improvement Plan 2011-2026’. The document can be found on our website.

Our major projects team deliver projects on both the local highway network (managed and maintained by GCC) and the strategic road network (trunk roads and motorways; the responsibility of Highways England).  Our work delivers on our Local Transport Plan for Gloucestershire - Transport Strategy for Gloucestershire to 2041 - Gloucestershire County Council  - and works towards the council’s LTP objectives:

  • Protect and enhance the natural built environment;
  • Support sustainable economic growth;
  • Enable safe and affordable community connectivity; and
  • Improve community health and wellbeing and promote equality of opportunity.
Page updated: 18/10/2021 Page updated by: GCC

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